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The New York Post is the latest newspaper to take a chance on selling subscriptions via an iPad app. The News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) paper launched its news app yesterday, charging $1.99 for the initial download. To get it daily after that, readers have to choose from three options: $6.99 a month, $39.99 for 6 months, or $74.99 annually.
The digital subscriptions are roughly half the price of print delivery, which runs $14 a month or $182 annually. Home delivery is discounted 22 percent from the newsstand.
As Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici noted, it appears as if the NY Post is the first newspaper with a completely free site access to begin selling subscriptions to its app. Gannett’s USA Today had initially planned to switch to a subscription model, but decided to hold off for the time being at least, given the unexpected advertiser demand it found. That paper is expected to make decision on whether to continue its USAT app as a free item or through paid subscription.
The Post‘s News Corp. sibling, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times charge readers to get app content. Unlike, the NYP, both also have online subscriptions in place that existed before their respective apps were introduced.
The important distinction here is that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) allowed those app subscriptions because of the existing online paid access requirements. The only way a publisher could sell a subscription was through Zinio, which offers subscriptions to digital replicas. Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) was a special case, as it was allowed to offer the People free to current print subs.
News Corp. has been particularly aggressive in making sure that its readers pay for digital access. Among its current plans on that front include figuring out how best make use of its acquisition of the Skiff e-reading platform and the stake it took in the Steve Brill/Gordon Crovitz paid content start-up Journalism Online. The company is also working on creating a dedicated news unit that would provide content specifically for tablets.
Most recently, The Columbus Dispatch agreed to take part in News Corp.